Would you go on vacation if you did not know where you were going? It may sound a bit crazy for some of you, but apparently there are quite a few people who are heading off on these mystery vacations. My aunt and uncle are among the people that enjoy going on these trips. The last trip they went on they met up with other people in the middle of nowhere Illinois. They were told to pack only the necessities for a 2-week journey. At the location they met up with the tour bus that leads the trip and they boarded the bus with a blindfold. Before the bus could leave their location in the middle of nowhere, they had to put on these blindfolds so they would not know where they are going. They traveled for hours without any idea of where they were going and where they would end up. They weren’t sure if they would end up in North Dakota, Texas, Maine or California. They did not know if they would be going to see the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone National Park or the biggest ball of yarn in the world. They had no idea where they were going until they arrived at each destination and removed their blindfold. They ended up going to amazing places like Yellowstone National Park and many other exciting locations, but my aunt and uncle had to give up complete control of their destination.
Some of us would love to go on a vacation like this because we wouldn’t have to plan anything. We would just go along for the ride and we wouldn’t have to plan what to see, where to eat, and all the other logistical nightmares that go along with coordinating a vacation. I am curious how many fall into that camp. How many of you out there would like to go on a vacation like this? Show of hands. Then there are others who like to be in control. We want to have our own schedule and go at our own pace. We like to pick out where we are going because, well we have a better idea than anyone else. Going on a vacation like the one I described earlier sounds way to scary because I just don’t want to give up all that control and be blindfolded. I want to decide when to stop and at what time to stop and where to stop. How many of you fall into this camp? I know that I do.
No matter whether you want to be in complete control driving the bus or whether you like to sit in the back and be blindfolded, in 2011 make a commitment to God to allow him to be the leader of the journey. When God takes control of our lives, we are forever changed. It may sound overwhelming to make this change at this point in time. But, this is not something that we are beginning now on January 2nd of 2011, but rather something that began in each of our baptisms. When we were sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the Cross of Christ, God said “yes” to each of us and continues to affirm each of us throughout every moment of our lives.
Whenever, we make the sign of the cross on our foreheads, whenever we remember our baptism, we are reminded about this promise that God made with us. When our 8th graders affirm their baptism on the second Sunday in May they respond positively to the promises made in baptism. They make these promises not just as individuals, but together as a group of people gathered together. They promise to live among God’s faithful people, to hear God’s word and share in the Lord’s Supper, to proclaim the good news of God in Christ, and to serve all people following the example of our Lord Jesus. Neither the 8th graders or us enter into these promises alone. Each of us are joined into a faith community; connected by Christ in our baptisms. So look around because you are on this faith journey with one another because for better or worse these are the people who are on that bus with you journeying together in faith. There are some of us who will scream “Are we there yet?” There will be others who will encourage us to stick with it and others who will try to tell the bus driver where to go even when they are blindfolded.
This year many of us have made our new years resolutions and some of us have already broken them. I told myself I would eat much healthier, but Laura’s cookies are just too good to pass up. In a moment you will have the chance to write down some resolutions to God, yourself, and your community for 2011. But before we write those down, know that God has already promised to be present with you every moment of your lives. God refuses to stop loving us. Whether we feel like we are in control and driving the bus or whether we feel like we have lost all control and feel like we are blindfolded, God’s love is never-ending.
Our text from John is very fitting this morning. I want to read the first five verses again
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”
As our Gospel text says, God has been present for all of time and God will continue to be present each and every moment of our lives. Throughout our lives, throughout our faith journeys, through the highs and lows of life, God is present with us.
Think about making promises to God this year that you will allow God to take more control in your life. Maybe feeling like we have a blindfold on in the back of a bus is a bit much for 52 weeks. For others, giving up some control to allow God to take more control is a welcome change. Wherever you find yourself, come along for the ride in 2011. Start the year of by committing to being an active part of this place. Let God use your gifts to enhance the life of this community. Make a promise to yourself, to God, and to this community that you will dive into your faith this year. That you will make a 52 week commitment to be present in worship, that you will make God a priority in all that you do. This may mean being present in worship on a regular basis, or becoming active in a ministry you are passionate about, keeping a prayer journal. There are many ways in which you can allow God to take the wheel this year.
So, even though we are not sure where the bus will lead us this year, let God take more control of your life. When we allow God to take the wheel our lives are forever changed. Let’s load up the bus and journey together in 2011. Amen.